S&W M&P 9mm: Part I

As you may recall from my post In search of the perfect 9mm for USPSA I have begun a new journey down the path of the Smith and Wesson, Military and Police, 9mm, semi-automatic pistol, hereafter simply known as the M&P9. Having settled on this platform as my next choice for Production division competition in USPSA, I now have to get the proper accessories and perhaps some allowed modifications for the pistol itself.

My first requirements are additional magazines and a competition holster. It should come as no surprise that I am going with the excellent Blade-Tech Dropped and Offset Holster (DOH) with their Tek-Lok attachment system. I just love this setup. It attaches rigidly to the CR Speed Hi-Torque belt and makes for a really quick draw, even with a high front sight post.

For magazines, I found a real gem: Greg Cote, LLC had factory 17-round magazines for around $25 each with $5.95 flat shipping for the whole order! Compare that to $35-40 from the online superstores. That was easy. I ordered six, which along with the two that came with the gun gives me eight. I feel that eight is a good number since it allows me to have all six pouches on the belt full, plus a barney and/or starter mag plus one. Don’t laugh, Justin ran out of rounds at Glyn’s Monster Match this summer with 100 rounds. Of course, Justin is special 😉

After shooting my Ruger SR9 for a long time now with the Hi-Viz fiber optic front sight, I have not been enjoying the stock white-dot sights on the M&P, so next up was a new front sight, or so I thought. I contacted Dawson Precision and tried to order what I thought was the right sight but as you can see here, there are many sights listed as “compatible with factory rear sight”. How is this possible? After a very patient explanation I finally understood that Dawson offers their front sights in many different heights to allow the individual customer to tailor the sight height so to make elevation corrections. I initially wanted to stick with the factory rear sight which meant I would need to match it, but with which front sight? I tried measuring the factory sight but my Micrometer’s batteries were dead. The closest i could tell (just looking at the exposed reference marks on the Mic) it was .150 inches tall. It turns out this is not correct: the front sight is actually .160 tall.

Another issue then arose: how certain was I that the gun was actually hitting my true Point of Aim (POA)? As anyone who shoots with me knows, my emphasis during USPSA shooting tends to be on speed. It’s not often that I take the time to shoot at bullseye targets to really check a pistol. So, off the the range.

I set up targets at 10 and 15 yards. Dawson tech support suggested 20 yards but most competition shooting is at the closer distances. After putting about 100 rounds into 5 targets (I really like Shoot-n-See from Birchwood Casey for stuff like this becasue you can see the hits clearly from a distance) I was satisfied that the factory sights were spot-on. So now I could order the .160 f/o front sight, right? Well, not so fast.

By the time I got home from the range I had now convinced myself that trying to use the factory rear sights was not a good idea. I’ve shot guns with Dawson fixed rears and it does make a difference. Having a pure black rear sight makes the f/o front stand out even more. The dots are just a distraction during competition. So, after toying with the idea of Wilson Combat rears I decided to get the DP serrated rear sight and matching f/o front sight. This front sight needs to be .180 tall to match the DP fixed rear.

By now you have probably realized that my borderline OCD (borderline?) can and does take me to strange places but be happy in the knowledge that you as the reader make it all worthwhile since you reap the rewards. At least that’s what I hope. All these considerations result in a final decision that hopefully works and works well. If not, well you will hear about that in due time.

So, with the sights finally ordered it was on to the trigger. I’ll cover that in Part II.

Stay tuned!

About William Daugherty

William Daugherty is a firearms enthusiast, competitive shooter and Second Amendment advocate living in the Upper Connecticut River Valley region of Northern New England.
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